Short & Sweet: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Axis, and More!

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 squirrelgirl

Ryan North (W), Erica Henderson and Maris Wicks (A)
Marvel Comics
January 7, 2015

Squirrel Girl, Squirrel Girl! She’s a human and also a squirrel! And maybe she’s the greatest hero in the universe! Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 is a bright, cheerful, exuberant read, and it’s my first “must read” comic of the year. Squirrel Girl, who of course has the proportional strength and abilities of a squirrel, is ready to move out of Avengers Mansion’s attic (get it? because squirrels in attics?) and start a new life as Doreen Green, totally normal college student. But this wouldn’t be a superhero comic if a supervillain didn’t attack, and soon Doreen is fighting none other than Kraven the Hunter! But wait, why is Kraven hunting squirrels?

Together, Ryan North and Erica Henderson have crafted an unbeatably charming first issue. I enjoyed North’s work on the Adventure Time comic book, where he proved he could write action and comedy, and Doreen and her best squirrel friend Tippy-Toe have a bit of Finn and Jake’s comedic rhythm between them. For anyone concerned that Squirrel Girl is a one-joke character, North quickly establishes Doreen as a plucky, geeky heroine with relentless can-do spirit–if anything, she reminds me of a young Spider-Man. Her ability to be, well, unbeatable in a fight isn’t presented as a gimmick or a “Can you believe it?” joke. She wins not because she has the best punches, but because she can figure out what Kraven wants and turn it against him.

Erica Henderson’s art is incredibly delightful and packed with amusing details, like Doreen’s acorn earrings and a box marked “HULK PANTS.” Her bucktoothed Doreen is adorably expressive and instantly lovable, and, trust me–you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Kraven the Hunter with gigantic sparkly eyes. Plus, there’s a kitten. What more could anyone want? I’m smiling just writing about this book, which is as good a recommendation as anything. North and Henderson’s Squirrel Girl #1 is a comic worth (big, bucktoothed) smiling about.

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #9axis-9-cover

Rick Remender (W), Jim Cheung, Terry Dodson, Leinil Francis Yu & Adam Kubert (A)
December 24th, 2014

Well, Axis was certainly a thing that happened.

By which I mean there were a lot of interesting things that have happened around it, but the majority of the event left me scratching my head and asking around on Twitter if anyone had a scorecard. The main series is over, but the repercussions are still rippling through Marvel. To explain — no, is too long, let me sum up — to sum up, the X-Men and Avengers tried to stop Red Skull, who turned himself into Red Onslaught by exhuming the brain of Charles Xavier. The Scarlet Witch was brought in along with some other magic users to bring out Xavier’s consciousness to stop the Skull from psi-bombing the world with hate. Unfortunately, the spell flipped everybody’s personalities, so heroes became villains and vice versa. They tried the spell again to flip everyone back, but Tony Stark used magic blocking technology (?!) to block the spell so not everyone returned to their normal selves. And it is not really clear who’s where except for Spider-Man (who never got inverted), Havok (who stayed inverted), and Sabretooth, who is now a sensitive man full of remorse and guilt. Poor woobie. Gag.

The tie-ins have been more interesting. Mystique suddenly wanting to be a nurturing mother to Nightcrawler was actually pretty heartstrings-tugging, and leaves me hoping that she was not de-inverted. Reverted? What’s the right word to use here? Luke Cage suddenly going all mercenary in the pages of Captain America and Mighty Avengers has been painful to read. Worse still, the new inverted Captain America has been insulting and painful to read. It comes across like “we gave the mantle to Sam Wilson just so we could turn him evil and besmirch the name. See what happens when you let a black man have that job?” Bleh.


They’re Not Like Us #1


Eric Stephenson (W), Simon Gane (A)
December 24, 2014

Wow. Now this one is interesting. The art is very unique but reminds me in a good way of Frank Quitely. It’s angular, full of details, and wrinkles. It’s not the smooth and clean world we usually see in superhero comics, because it’s not a superhero comic. It starts off letting you know that on the first page, as the main character’s Chucks come to the edge of the roof ledge in preparation to jump. She has spent her whole life with doctors who think she’s mentally ill because she hears voices. The truth is that she’s a telepath in a world where superpowers aren’t supposed to exist. She is found by someone else with a unique ability and spirited away to a household of people who have their own unique gifts. Just as she starts to feel at home, they tell her how she must sever her ties with her old life to begin the new one. I can’t blame her for looking stunned.


Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.